Social care in England is undervalued, underfunded and on the brink of collapse. Being old and in care can, for some people, feel precarious. The statistics showing the state of care homes across the UK are sobering. The Care Quality Commission regulator says almost one in four care homes are inadequate or require improvement, while Age UK says 1.2 million people over 65 had some level of unmet care needs in 2016-17.

Protect (formerly known as Public Concern at Work) believes the care sector could benefit if staff feel able to speak out. With so many care homes rated inadequate or in need of improvement, we believe residents and staff face risk, danger and malpractice. The 400 annual calls to our whistleblowing advice line from the care sector are, we suspect, just scratching the surface of the problems facing care homes. Protect would like to gain a clearer picture of whistleblowing in care homes, which is why we have launched a survey.

Our advice line receives about 2,500 calls a year, and its findings should worry anyone working in senior management in the care home sector:

  • Care staff are often left unsupported by their employer, with one in three saying their whistleblowing concerns – often a safeguarding or patient safety issue – were ignored.
  • More than half of whistleblowers also reported some kind of victimisation, with 23% saying they have been dismissed after raising concerns.

Staff are the eyes and ears of an organisation and can act as an early warning system of potential risk or malpractice. Staff who feel comfortable raising a concern, or whistleblowing, may possibly save lives or complex litigation down the line.

Alerting managers to potential risks, wrongdoing or malpractice long before it becomes a problem is a good thing. Much of our work at Protect is getting this message across to organisations and encouraging them to not only embrace whistleblowers, but also be grateful for the issues staff raise.

It sounds simple. If it were, Protect would not need to exist.

This summer, the government is due to publish a much-needed green paper on reforming care for older people, which we welcome. However, until then, we’re very concerned about the issues facing the 1.5 million care home staff in England and those they care for. If you work in care homes, please help us at Protect to build a clearer picture of whistleblowing and the issues facing care homes in England.

Whether you are a care home worker, nurse or manager, we would like to hear your views in our very short survey ( which is open until the end of April). The results (email addresses and names will not be captured or featured in this survey) will help Protect campaign for stronger whistleblowing in care homes.

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"PCAW IS A UNIQUE AND IMPORTANT RESOURCE FOR PEOPLE IN MY POSITION."

Advice Line client, who uncovered malpractice in the care home where he worked.

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THE STORY

FA worked as a care assistant in an old people’s home. He and some of his colleagues were worried that SM, one of the managers, might be stealing cash from the residents. SM, looked after residents’ pocket money and kept a record of when sums were paid out. FA was fairly sure that money was recorded as being given out to particular residents when they had received none.

After a while, he thought he had to raise the concern as the amount involved was adding up. After he raised his concerns with the owners of the home, an investigation quickly found FA was right, SM was dismissed and the police were called in. Relations within the home were tense as some of SM’s friends strongly objected to the whistleblowing. Within weeks, FA was suspended over allegations that he had mistreated the residents. He rang us.

WHAT WE ADVISED

We advised that he should bite his lip and deal with these allegations squarely. Although the investigation found they had no substance, the owners decided to transfer FA to another home. FA was very unhappy and rang us again. We helped him draft a letter to the owners explaining that he wanted to stay at that home and that transferring him after he had blown the whistle would give out the wrong messages to other staff.

WHAT HAPPENED

The owners reconsidered and FA stayed at the home. When FA rang to tell us that SM had been convicted of stealing £1400 from the residents, he said the atmosphere in the home was now much improved.

DONATE TO PCAW
TEXT 70070

WITH THE WORDS PCAW01 AND STATE THE AMOUNT (UP TO £10) YOU WISH TO GIVE, OR

DONATE NOW VIA

BT MYDONATE

"PCAW IS A UNIQUE AND IMPORTANT RESOURCE FOR PEOPLE IN MY POSITION."

Advice Line client, who uncovered malpractice in the care home where he worked.

READ FULL CASE STUDY

NEWSLETTER

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For news on PCaW, sign up to our newsletter.